By Nathan Jones
Back in 2008, Oprah announced that she was going to start offering on her satellite radio program a year-long course entitled A Course in Miracles. What is it all about?
Dr. David Reagan and I recently had the pleasure of asking this question of James Walker, President of the ministry Watchman Fellowship based in Arlington, Texas. James is a former fourth generation Mormon who found the Lord Jesus Christ and since then has dedicated his life in trying to lead people out of the spiritual darkness of the cults. Experts on cults and false religions, his ministry has indexed nearly 1,200 religious organizations, cults, occultic groups, and controversial doctrinal practices to aid people in spiritual discernment.
Is life just a dream?
James Walker: A Course in Miracles is a New Age foundational classic going back to the 1960's actually. It was written by a woman named Helen Schucman who was a psychiatric practitioner. She was a clinical psychiatrist who heard a voice in her head. That voice identified itself as Jesus and said, "This is a course in miracles, please take notes." And so, over the next few years she received dictated information, which is really channeling. This voice that was telling her "my name is Jesus" had her begin to take notes and from that up comes this book. This method of writing is similar to automatic writing, but it is a form of channeling. From this inner dictation she comes up with a thick book entitled A Course in Miracles. Marianne Williamson later writes a book called A Return to Love which is based on the principles found in A Course in Miracles. Although Helen Schucman died in the early 1980's, her books has become a classic in New Age circles.
The teaching from Schucman's spirit calling himself Jesus tells us that everything that we are seeing right now is actually a dream. It's not here. There is no reality. We are actually sleeping safely in Heaven and all this that we are seeing right now is an illusion. This is another New Age teaching that is borrowed from an Eastern religion called Maya. The idea of Maya is that everything that we see is an illusion, and for many forms of New Age, once you understand that you can change reality by the powers of your mind. You can visualize or say the right words, speak into existence, or think the right thoughts like from the book The Secret, which is another book that Oprah pushes real hard. You can create your own reality. Well, that is all based on the idea that there is no independent, self-identified reality outside what we project from our minds. This is the core teaching found in this year-long course based on Eastern religions that Oprah put out for a whole year on her radio program.
Nathan Jones: Some of the teachings that she made her audience say every day, I just couldn't believe how anyone could say them and still claim to be a Christian. She'll say, "A slain Christ has no meaning," and then the audience all repeats, "A slain Christ has no meaning." She'll say, "The journey to the cross should be the last useless journey." Or how about this heretical statement, "Do not make the pathetic error of clinging to the old rugged cross." Such blasphemous quotes go on and on like this, constantly attacking the Bible and Jesus' divinity.
James Walker: Yes, this is not just some innocuous self-help book. This is an antithesis to Christianity. This is the very heart of sin. And again, this idea of Maya which orders you to reject the whole idea of sin, sickness and death, well we find the same teachings in cults like Christian Science. We find the same thing in the Unity School of Christianity. We find the same thing in the Church of Religious Science. All of this is part and parcel of New Age spirituality.
Jesus came to teach us that we are divine?
Nathan Jones: Eric Butterworth in one of his more popular books which Oprah promotes said, "Jesus did not come to teach us how divine he was, but to teach that divinity is within each of us." That to me sounds like lie from the Garden of Eden, the first temptation.
Dr. Reagan: Oprah said of that statement that if Jesus did claim exclusive divinity, then He was the biggest egotist that ever lived.
James Walker: Yes, it really is always going to come back to Satan's lies from the Garden of Eden. It's an attack on the deity of Christ. It always comes back to the Garden of Eden with what the serpent told Eve, "You will not surely die." This false promise of immortality is apart from the God of the Bible, claiming through reincarnation or whatever means that you are not going to really die.
Secondly, Satan promised your eyes are going to be opened. This is what the New Age calls Enlightenment. Immersed in this enlightened state the third lie comes as the kicker — that you will be as God.
Eric Butterworth was one of the most renowned teachers and philosophers in this area, calling it the Unity School of Christianity, which is a New Age religion. He died I think in 2003 or something like that, but he was one of the biggest teachers of the Unity School of Christianity and this whole idea of the New Age. He was one of Oprah's mentors and she's expressed appreciation for what he had to say.
So, what these New Age teachers like Butterworth are going to teach you is that you are God, but you just don't know it yet. This parallels exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden with the temptation of Eve from the Serpent.
Dr. Reagan: This all reminds me of something that happened to me years ago back in the mid-80's when I was speaking on cults at a conference in Denton, Texas. I had mentioned that the Unity Church is a cult and I gave some reasons why. Denton is a big college center with a couple of universities there and so lots of college students. After my talk, up came two girls who were incensed at me. They said, "How dare you call the Unity Church a cult! We are members of the Unity Church." So, I asked, "Does your preacher ever preach from the Bible?" They answered, "Well, not really. They talk about philosophy and so forth. In fact, we got so upset about it that we went to our pastor and asked him to preach a sermon out of the Bible. He did." One of the girls pulls out an envelope and she has the notes from the sermon on the back. She said, "This is the sermon that he preached last Sunday called 'Why Jesus Believed in Reincarnation.'" I asked, "Very interesting, did he give any quotes?" She answered, "Oh, yes, he said you cannot go to Heaven unless you are born again." This is the kind of deception that exists in these New Age teachings.
James Walker: Yes, absolutely. Oprah may be just one of the most visible signs of this transition from the traditional Christian worldview to New Age spirituality, but it is being repeated millions of times across our country. Oprah is its main leader.
Are there many ways to God?
Dr. Reagan: The ultimate apostasy it seems to me that all this leads to is one that she has mouthed herself regarding the question of whether there are many roads to God. Oprah made this comment, "There could not possibly be only one way to God. Does God really care about your heart or whether you call His Son Jesus?"
James Walker: That's the problem of pluralism. You are always going to find that the false religions are going to say that there are many paths, many roads, many ways to whatever you call God. And, the truth of the matter is that's a very appealing doctrine. If God came to me and said, "James, how would you like it to be?" Maybe I would vote that way, but God never asked me.
We are as Christ followers bound to go with what Christ Himself said. Jesus made it crystal clear when He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life no one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn. 14:6).
On my website at watchman.org, I have the video of Oprah actually saying that there could not possibly be one way to God. She gets all on that. Oprah has a little debate with a woman in the audience who claims Jesus is the only way and is just appalled with her. So, we are not misquoting Oprah. Oprah clearly teaches that there are many paths and many ways to whatever you call God. Go there and watch the video for yourself. You can also download our article "The Gospel According to Oprah" and we document the sources for where we are getting these quotes so you can follow up on the research as well.
The most important thing people can do to avoid being deceived is to be able to understand the Word of God in context, not bits and pieces here and there, to know the truth. The best way to recognize any counterfeit is by knowing the genuine, and the genuine is presented by God through His Word in the Old and New Testaments. That is our best defense in being able to recognize the cults — by knowing the genuine.